Tag Archives: sustainability

SAUWS wins awards for sustainability!

The Student’s Association of the University of the West of Scotland (SAUWS) has won two awards at the National Union of Students (NUS) ceremony which was held in Bolton on 8th July 2015.

SAUWS won the prestigious NUS Green Impact Gold Award in recognition of the staff and students’ dedication to positive environmental action and the environmental performance in the university over the last year.  This betters the achievement of a bronze Green Impact award from the previous year.

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The main focus of this project is to increase awareness of sustainability practises within the work place amongst staff working in the Union. In addition, Projects that helped to achieve this gold award included the UWS Community Gardens situated in Paisley, Hamilton and Ayr, that encourage biodiversity and aim to get staff and students involved in sustainable food production; and the SAUWS Free Shop which takes on good quality used items and then gives them away to UWS students, staff and the wider community. Starter packs are also set up for students and the wider community for the more vulnerable groups such as those living in refuge or social housing.

Jack Douglas, President of the Students’ Association, said “I’m incredibly proud that the Students’ Association has been able to rise all the way to the NUS Green Impact Gold Award in such a short space of time. This wouldn’t have been possible without our staff in the sustainability team and for the many students who took up the opportunity to get involved in our activities.”

The second award that was presented to SAUWS congratulated the Association for coming first place in the NUS “Snap it Off!” campaign, winning £500. Snap it Off! Involved getting students to take pictures of areas around their universities where energy was being used unnecessarily, and then sending them into the Snap it Off! website. NUS would then contact staff at the university so that the energy waste could be resolved. The student who sent in the most photos from UWS, final year Civil Engineering student Chukwumela Okoroma, won a Samsung Galaxy tablet.

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Jack Douglas, President of SAUWS commented “This wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of our staff in the sustainability team and the many students that took up the opportunity to get involved in carbon saving activities. UWS students have a strong belief that we should be working towards a sustainable future and we are seeing an amount of students that want to get involved and make a difference. At SAUWS, we look forward to build on this year’s work as we start to prepare for the next academic year.”

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Wimbledon 2015

As the nation watched with bated breath we seen Novak Djokovic beat seven time champion Roger Federer to win the men’s singles title while Serena Williams was the winner of the women’s singles title at this year’s Wimbledon tournament.

The tournament had many twists and turns that resulted in Dustin Brown taking out Rafa Nadal, Murray Mania sweeping the nation, Roger Federer refusing to age and Heather Watson taking the tournament by storm.

With such an established and elite event we wondered how sustainable is the All England Lawn Tennis Club?

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The organisers of Wimbledon are keen on recycling and the sustainability of the event. For all recyclable materials, they are sorted out through a Material Recovery Facility with non- recyclable materials being processed at an Energy from Waste facility. This means that they achieve an overall reduction from landfill of around 95%. This has also been made possible with the introduction of a two-streamed waste bin system which has seen a recycling rise to 53% of all waste.

Wimbledon also has the responsibility to take care of the local community who are affected when the event is being held. The Wimbledon Foundation was created to fund charities, fix roads, flowers and statues that may be damaged during The Championship. This also directly involves developing effective transport solutions during the tournament which will reflect the priorities of the club, its neighbours and those visiting during The Championships.

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club pledges to “take into account the environmental impact of everything it does and will strive to reduce direct and indirect resource consumption and to reduce more generally its impact on the environment”.  The Championship has committed to minimise fossil fuel use as much as possible, and to use only bio-friendly gases, with the key objective of reducing carbon emissions from the grounds.

We all know that Wimbledon is famous for their Pimms as well as strawberries and cream. The strawberries and cream are locally sourced from within a hundred miles; nearly all of the strawberries come from Kent and are picked at 5.30am that morning. In total 28,000kg of strawberries are consumed during the fortnight with more than 7,000 litres of cream.

With the environmental care being well managed it came to our surprise of how the 54,200 tennis balls get to centre court. The Slazenger tennis balls travel over 50,000 miles, fly between 11 countries and across four continents to then arrive at centre court. Although this may be more cost effective for Slazenger to produce the vast amount of tennis balls needed, it does create a vast amount of footprint. This shows that there is failing to ensure manufacturers pay the true cost of their environmental impact which can lead to an extraordinary supply chain in a globalised world.  It may not be practical for the tennis balls to go on a round the world trip but this has more to do with the suppliers rather than Wimbledon.

Here’s 50 things that were learned about Wimbledon over the last two weeks: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/wimbledon/11735538/Wimbledon-2015-50-things-we-learned.html

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Another amazing year, great atmosphere and emotional experience for us all!

Until next year…

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Glastonbury – A tent is for life not just for a festival

So that’s it from Glastonbury for another year. With the controversy of Kanye West headlining Saturday night and stating that he is “the greatest living rock star on the planet”, to the debut of Lee-zus (aka Lee Nelson) gate crashing Kanye’s set and the roaring reception of Lionel Richie we can definitely say this one will be remembered for a while.

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With 177,550 attendees at Worthy Farm each year there will be a significant level of litter generated at the festival. So we decided to investigate HOW GREEN IS GLASTONBURY?

In 2014 the festival recycled; 114 tonnes of composted organise waste, 400 tonnes of chipped wood, 23 tonnes of glass, 85 tonnes of cans and plastic bottles, 41 tonnes of cardboard,11.2 tonnes of clothing, tents and sleeping bags. Overall 983 tonnes of waste was collected with 54% of it being recycled.

With the images of what has been left from Glastonbury this year is it possible they can do the same or even better than the previous year?

Glastonbury is trying to highlight the importance of recycling by promoting the phrases “Love the farm, leave no trace” as well as “Reduce, reuse and recycle”. Even with the introduction of these mottos it is still costing the festival around £780,000 to dispose of all the rubbish that is left at the festival. They have 15,000 bins and have 1,300 recycling crew volunteers as well as Small Steps Project who are a team of volunteers who do their bit to clean the site.

On a more cheerful note Glastonbury has managed to do things to improve and help the festival to become more environmentally sustainable. All of the tea, coffee, sugar and chocolate sold on site are all Fairtrade; they also run a Green Traveller Scheme to encourage travel by public transport, offering prizes and free food vouchers for those who participate. Reducing the Festival’s CO2 emissions is a top priority for the organisers of the festival.

Personal items such as tents and wellington boots are often left behind. Since 2011 Festival Reboot has worked with Glastonbury recycling any wellies that have been left, in their first year they collected 4000. Using the top half of the welly they are able to make and sell bracelets, drinks holders and notepads. From the money raised they then can send the lower section of the welly over to Kenya where they will be used for general footwear. They are also looking into making bean bag chairs filled with the off cuts of wellington boots which will result in nearly 100% recycling achievement. http://www.festivalreboot.co.uk/

If you are attending a festival this year and still haven’t bought a tent yet have a look at Green Tent Company; they are the first company in the world to design and manufacture tents that are solely made of polyester which means they can be recycled. They also offer a ‘Purchase and Collect’ service at festivals as well as a drop off point when you are finished. http://www.thegreententcompany.co.uk/

ReTent is another service which provides an incentive for campers for to repeatedly reuse their tents. The company believe that there is a lack of connection between festival-goers and their tent. To improve this ReTent will spray a stamp onto the tent to recognise that they have been to that festival; the more festivals people go to with the same tent the more stamps they will get. This will hopefully give people the motivation to reuse their tents as it will become memorabilia of their time at the festivals.  http://www.thegreententcompany.co.uk/

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Glastonbury has been a huge contributor to the local environment around the farm and charities. Since 2000, 10,000 native trees and hedge plants have been planted near to the site and £1 million has been donated to international and local charities each year. It is the single biggest donor to Greenpeace and also supports its official partners WaterAid and Oxfam.

Next up for us T in the Park 2015!

We Just Can’t Contain Ourselves: Container planting project coming alive at the community gardens

Gardening in Containers: A Quick Guide

It is widely agreed that gardening brings many benefits, both physical and emotional. One simple but highly effective way in which more people can get these benefits is by growing plants in containers. As part of their container planting project, SAUWS Environment have available a number of windowsill troughs. They are available free of charge to interested staff and students- so why not consider applying for one (details below). All you need to do is come along to one of our sessions in the community garden on your campus, make up your container with our help and take it away, for FREE!

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There are many reasons why you might want to consider starting a container garden. For example, it enables:

  • Plants to be brought indoors- such as workplaces and residencies.
  • People who do not have a garden to enjoy gardening.
  • People with restricted mobility to participate in gardening.
  • People who are housebound (through mental or physical ill health) can benefit from looking at and tending to plants.

You can grow a range of plants in containers- including vegetables for use the kitchen. Many types of containers can be used to grow plants in. Containers can be placed anywhere- but will thrive on bright, warm window ledges.

Here are some tips to help you get started with a container garden:

  • Choose a roomy container.
  • Don’t use containers made from treated wood.
  • Make sure the container has drainage holes in it.
  • Be careful with watering. Make sure water reaches all of the soil in the container (allow the water to run through the container and out of the drainage holes at the bottom).
  • Keep an eye on the water content of the soil in the container and don’t let them get too much rain. Top Tip: soil should be moist (test this using your finger).
  • Cover containers (and the plants) in the winter months.
  • Add your preferred fertiliser to the soil. Follow with more liquid fertiliser as growing continues.
  • Make sure tall plants are well supported in the pot.
  • Carry out planting at the same time you would for plants growing in the ground.
  • Remember to weed the plants as required- and look out for insects or other types of pests.

For information on the best types of plants (including vegetables) to grow in containers:

You can find general information on growing plants in containers at:

If you would like to find out more about obtaining a free window-still trough, contact Natalie.McCall@SAUWS.org.uk with the heading CONTAINER PROJECT

Garden sessions run:

Sessions will run:

Hamilton Campus – Tues 12-3pm

Ayr Campus – Thurs 11-4pm

Paisley Campus – Wed & Fri 12-2

Spring Forward, Cycle Back: Find out why you should get back in the saddle this Spring

Are you tired of having to drive everywhere in your car, or having to wait for what feels like an eternity on the bus that always seems to be running late when you’re in a hurry? Got a bike rusting away in the shed that you bought years ago as part of a bungled new year’s resolution to keep fit and/or get in shape?

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Well it’s never too late to act on that resolution, and while we’re at it there’s a solution to your travel problems. That solution is of course cycling (why else would I mention a bike). In the following piece I’m going to list four reasons why, if you are cycling, to keep it up, and if you don’t why you really should do as the benefits are rewarding to yourself and to the rest of the world.

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  1. It’s good for your physical health

Let’s start with an easy reason; cycling is good for you. Are you after that summer beach body? Perhaps just wanting to get a little fitter? Cycling exercises all the important muscles and joints in your body, but it is less strenuous than running and allows for the body to have a pleasant experience while loosening up your body and making it much stronger. Cycling can in the long term prevent the future suffering of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, high blood pressure or heart attack, so it will ultimately help you to live a healthy long lasting life, and isn’t what we all strive for.

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  1. It’s good for your mental health

Asides from being good for the body, cycling is also a great way of maintaining the strength of the mind. Had a stressful week and feel that the world is falling in on you? Well get on your bike. Cycling can be a useful way of reducing stress and alleviating feelings associated with anxiety and depression, this can be due in part to the exercise our body is experiencing and allowing for our mind to focus on the task at hand. Let us not forget also, the act of cycling is generally an enjoyable experience so it allows us to feel a sense of pleasure free from pesky stressful feelings.

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  1. It’s good for your wallet and the economy

Let’s start this by saying that while buying a bike may be a costly purchase, the long term benefits to your wallet will be most beneficial. Aren’t we all tired of spending a small fortune on the costs of petrol for our cars and fares for public transport? Well if we took up cycling then you would save hundreds or possibly thousands of pounds a year.

Not only is cycling kind towards your bank balance, it’s been found to be helpful for the economy.  Cycling and the sales of cycling related goods made around  £3 billion for the British economy in 2010 alone, and cycling ultimately saves the UK economy almost £83 Million a year owing to the fewer sick days that cyclists take than their car driving colleges .  So as we can see, cycling is good for the wallet and ultimately it helps the country’s economy grow and save money at the same time. Isn’t it about time we heard some economic news that was positive for a change?

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  1. It’s good for the environment

Of course it is common knowledge that petrol powered cars and public transport have contributed to the gradual environmental decline that the world has been going through for decades. So why not ditch the car and take up the bike? If we take up cycling we are saving the planet and our own money! We can preserve the environment that we still have and prevent any further erosion. What’s the point in cycling if we didn’t have some nice scenery to enjoy while we did it, so let’s cycle to preserve the world’ natural beauty.

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  1. It’s good fun

Last but certainly not least, this point really shouldn’t need an explanation. Cycling is good for many things, the economy, the environment and the health of people both physically and mentally. While all this is amazing there is a far cleaner cut reason for doing it. It is downright good fun! Whether you are cutting down a mountain trail at 30 mph or making your way across the city to meet friends, getting out in that fresh air is an awesome experience. If you are not doing it for any of the reasons above, just do it for the fun of it. You won’t be disappointed!

We hope that this week’s blog post has inspired some of you to get yourselves back in the saddle this spring, as you can see there are plenty of reason why you should certainly think about it at least. A major part in SAUWS Environment’s newly funded project will focus on active travel over the coming year and there will be a load of opportunities for students and staff to get involved. Amongst the planned activities are group bike runs and Maintenance workshops providing in depth training on how you can maintain your own bike.

If this sounds like it may be up your street contact us at sustainability@sauws.org.uk to be added to our mailing list. Also you can catch us on Facebook and Twitter.

Celebrating the Old, Anticipating the New: A reflection upon SAUWS Environment’s highlights over the last 18 months

As we approach the final week of the project 2013/15, we here at SAUWS Environment feel it is a fitting time to do a little reflection over the past 18 months and celebrate just how far we have come. This is by no means the end but only the beginning for something new here at the University as we enter the new chapter of the project on April 1st.

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It is with a sense of joy and pride we have culminated our top 10 highlights of the project this far into a list. Where possible, we have provided some pictures, videos and a little information surrounding these landmarks.

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Freshers Fair 2013 & 2014

Freshers 2013 was where it all really began for SAUWS Environment. It was at this stage we were still young, innocent and finding our feet. This offered the team its first chance to engage with the students of UWS and spread the word of what the project was going to offer over the next 18 months. On the day we were lucky enough to be joined by Peachy Keen, who provided fantastic entertainment with their bicycle powered scalectrix challenge. I think we actually lost count of the number of students taking part that day but one that sticks in mind was the Universities very own Principal.

Freshers 2014 was our second opportunity to make new friends and make new friends we did. This time around St Andrews University were kind enough to let us borrow their bicycle powered scalectrix equipment. Other features on this day included the SAUWS Free Shop and Home Energy Scotland’s Fuel Good Driving simulator. One of the main highlights was without doubt the SAUWS Environment Guess the Cress competition. Our lucky winner Tasha picked up some handy shopping vouchers for Morrisons after the team had undertaken the painstaking task of counting that cress.

Go Green Week 2014 & 2015

For the team, Go Green Week stands out as our annual biggie. With Go Green Week being a national weeklong event focused on combating climate change, this is always the event where we want to pull out all the stops. Over the past two years we enjoyed great success taking Go Green Week across three of the UWS campuses, connecting with a massive amount of students.

Both years involved an action packed line up which included activities such as the Rags to Riches Up-cycle workshops, Glasgow Bike Station’s Dr Bike, SAUWS very own Free Shop, Home Energy Scotland’s Fuel Good Driving simulator, Love Food Hate Waste Workshops and project themed film nights. Having all these great activities is only half the success of the event though, the most important part of all was the engagement of the staff and students at UWS. Without doubt it was this that made these events so special each year.

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SRUC Students Designing Ayr Garden

Way back in the early days of the project, the UWS community garden teamed up with a group of SRUC students to run a competition for designing the Ayr community garden. This engagement between the project and the students has always been the true essence of what the Community Gardens are all about. A selection of carefully crafted designs were submitted and even though competition was tough, the combined efforts of Kathryn Trinder and Louise Wakeling eventually went on to be developed as what is today, the Riverside Community garden on Ayr Campus.

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UWS Community Gardens and launch parties

The past 18 months have seen the three UWS Community gardens grow from seedlings to thriving harvest. Thanks to student and staff engagement, these plots have taken shape and are without doubt heading towards the self sustaining legacy we had always hoped for. While we have enjoyed the harvests of delicious vegetables our three garden launch parties in 2014 stick in the mind as glorious occasions.

On April 22nd we brought the party to the Ayr Garden, with Transitions staff member Chris Forster creating a wonderful spread that included handmade bread and cakes and a fantastic homemade soup. On a beautiful spring day students and staff joined together and enjoyed lunch while taking part in a garden session.

May 1st saw the garden party move to the Paisley Campus, this time we threw the event within the Students’ Union, with live music from Losing Ground and Danny Neo. This event also celebrated and said goodbye to what was a successful Transitions project and enjoyed a fantastic buffet provided by local ethical supplier Locavore.

The final party took place May 16th on the Hamilton Campus in a similar fashion to that of the Ayr celebration previous. Again students and staff joined together to take part in garden activities and enjoyed another fine spread of food provided by Locavore.

While the garden continues to grow we hope to continue to hold similar events in the near future, it is these get togethers that make the project feel even more worthwhile.

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Our Relationship with the Glasgow Bike Station

Over the past 18 months we have had an ever increasing relationship with the Glasgow Bike Station. Without these guys we would have had no chance of running events and activities anywhere near the standard we have up until now. With active travel as one of the main elements of our project we have run a series of events in connection with the Glasgow bike station. These have included Dr Bike, an open bike maintenance session where students and staff can bring along their bike for a tune up or repair. Dr Bike workshops, where students and staff get the opportunity to learn the skills required to fix their own bikes. We also organised the SAUWS bike run in October 2014 using bikes from the Glasgow Bike Station, this event proved a success amongst the student community and is something that will certainly be taking place again in the new project.

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Bicycle Powered Film Nights

Over the course of the project we ran a selection of film nights across the campuses, showing movies that ran with the theme of the project. When the opportunity came to provide something that bit more special we jumped at the chance to organise the bicycle powered film nights. At these events we would provide the movie and the snacks, but in return the students took their turn to provide the power by pedalling the specially designed bikes that run the projector. While a lot of sweat was shed in the process, the novelty of the bicycle powered cinema was a real success and just another one of the great memories of the project this past year.

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Fairtrade Fortnight 2014

Fairtrade Fortnight 2014 was certainly one to remember. SAUWS Environment ran the “Stick with Foncho” campaign on Paisley Campus collecting a multitude of signatures for the worldwide petition supporting the sale of Fairtrade bananas in our supermarkets. Highlights were members of staff dressed as giant bananas and the stall set up in the D Block concourse providing participating staff and students with free Fairtrade tea, coffee, bananas and homemade bakery items. A blog post detailing the events of this event can be found here…..

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SAUWS Free Shop

Without doubt one of the biggest successes of the project over the past 18 months has been the SAUWS Free Shop. This pop us shop has takenplace on each of the UWS campuses on a regular basis. The idea behind this venture is based on the principle that students donate their unwanted items to us, and then in turn we run a pop up shop offering these same items to fellow students for FREE. Two successfully organised collections at the halls of residence provided a massive amount of items including kitchenware, clothing, stationary, books and much more which has since been re-circulated amongst the students’ community. This has been such a success that over the course of the new project we aim to develop an online version of the Free Shop, making items more readily available in an online space.

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Green Impact

SAUWS has run the Green Impact programme with university staff during the academic years 2011-12, 2012 – 2013, 2013 – 2014 and 2014 – 2015. Green Impact is an environmental accreditation scheme where university departments compete to complete the highest number of environmentally-friendly actions in their workplace. During this project, 16 departmental teams signed up with a departmental reach of 246 staff members. It is this engagement between staff, students and the Green Impact project that creates a real shift towards change, reducing CO2e within the university. It is a team effort and every contributor is equally as important as the last.

In June 2014 the team celebrated at the annual Green Impact awards on Paisley campus. We look forward to presenting the same ceremony this year, rewarding those involved for their hard work.

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The Conformation of New Funding!!

While so much was achieved throughout the project, the conformation of funding to run SAUWS Environment for another year was by far one of the best moments for the project as a whole. This allowed us to plan for the future, developing new ideas for events, activities and campaigns. So much hard work went into this process from now departed team member Melanie Hall and UWS staff member Claire Roxburgh. It is from here we want to fulfil the faith placed upon us and deliver the best possible work over the coming year and we want all at UWS to be involved.

We hope that you have enjoyed our whistle stop tour of the past 18 months with us within this blog post. While the team members have changed over the duration, the same positive ethos remains. The current team would like to thank the hard work of Elizabeth Dirth, Melanie Hall and Kristina Nitsolova who set the foundations and ground work for the past and future success of the project.

To stay in touch with the project join our mailing list here:

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For any further information on anything relating to the project please just drop us an email at sustainability@sauws.org.uk

Six Things You Could Give or Get FREE – Pass it on Week 2015

Pass it on Week, what’s it all about then? Well, how often have you bought new items to replace the old, put the old items in the green bin and forgotten about it? Ever wonder where that goes? Landfill, that’s the answer. Often before we let the old items live in a cupboard or the loft for a bit before sending them on the slow coach to hell. I have even seen family member holding on to broken items for years. Well the long and short of it is THIS DOES NOT NEED TO HAPPEN! This is what Pass it on Week is all about.

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Zero Waste Scotland will be holding its Pass it On week from March 7th to March the 15th. The weeklong event has been set up to encourage members of the public bring in various assorted items which can be traded in and donated to charities, they can swap items with friends and families and be encouraged to buy second hand goods. The thinking behind the campaign is to minimise the amount of waste produced in Scotland and to prevent the countries landfills from being needlessly filled up with items that could be re-used or given away to other who may have use for it. So now that we have made you aware of the campaign, we can give you some examples of the items that you could be donating, swapping or picking up.

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Sofas

Who would have thought sofas would be filling up our landfills, but it’s true with an estimated half a million sofas filling up the countries landfills every year according to Zero Waste Scotland. The group also estimates that for every 100 sofas that are saved an extra 1.5 billion carbon emissions could be saved and it would generate revenue in the economy they where resold. So by recycling your old sofas your helping to save the planet. Besides, they would be much better resting in someone’s living room than in a landfill, maybe even your own if you find one that catches your eye. The furniture Re-use Network operates nationwide, organising collection and re-circulating furniture. Check them out online.

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Clothes

Got some clothes that your mum bought for you when that you weren’t keen but were too embarrassed to take them back to the shop? Well donate and give them to someone who might appreciate them more. Or do you find that the clothes shops are too expensive, or don’t have the kind of clothes you’re looking for? Well by dropping by your local Free shop or second hand store you may just find the kind of clothes you’re looking for, or an avenue to unload your unwanted or unneeded clothes.

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Bikes

This idea comes from the organiser of the week Ian Gulland, who speaks fondly of his recycled bike which he managed to snare at an event recycle event. Do you have a bike you don’t need cause you want to upgrade, or have you just given up cycling altogether but don’t want you let the bike rust in the shed (a bit like I did, whoops)? Well check online for there are many places keen and willing to take your old bike for recycling. Check out the Glasgow Bike Station for instance. Let someone else get the good of it!

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Books

Got some old books you don’t want any more, or perhaps looking for that old classic that you can’t seem to find in waterstones. Well take them to your local second hand store, Free shop or recycle centre. These places are also great for finding something that will meet your literary interests. Books belong in libraries and on bookshelves, not in landfills where they simply fill up space and put an author’s hard work to waste. By contributing to this Pass it on Week you are ensuring that the environment is preserved, you save money and you ensure that an author’s words are able to continue to do what it set out to do and inform and entertain.

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Kitchenware

One of the first things required for anyone moving into a new flat or house is kitchenware. Be it plates, knives and forks or whatever other bits and pieces we need to cook and eat. These are also items that people stock pile from time to time. Get new sets but don’t throw out the old ones. In places such as student residences, new sets are bought every year. Don’t let those old ones sit and collect dust!!! Also, don’t let them make that journey to landfill! There are plenty of places within the community that can take these in. Second hand shops, Free shops, recycle centres. Why not check to see what you have surplus to requirements that can help some other soul moving into new accommodation.

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Electrical Items

Electrical items can even be donated when they are broken. Have a look online for organisations that are registered to repair and re-circulate electrical goods.  Valpak is just one of the organisations set up to do this on a large scale. Old electrical goods do not just go to landfill in this country. Many are shipped out to Africa to be burned and stripped for scrap material. This is damaging for the environment on so many levels. So if you REALLY need a new TV or any other appliance, please spare some thought for what you are going to do with the old one. It will definitely be of some use to somebody.

These six ideas are only a starter for what you can recycle or donate. Take a step back and have a look around your home. We as humans hoard loads of stuff we will never need again, most of us have a loft full. The thing is, it usually one day get thrown away, sent down to landfill. This is needless on many occasions as so much can be re-used, fixed, up-cycled and be of use to someone else. We really hope this post can inspire you this week to take stock of what you have around the house and maybe get some items to a new home.

We will be running two Pass it on Week themed Free Shops this coming week on the following dates:

Tuesday 10th March – Hamilton Students’ Association – 12 – 2

Friday 13th March – Paisley, The Union, Level 1 – 12 – 2

We hope to see you there.

We also collect donations, if you have anything you would like to donate please contact sustainability@SAUWS.org.uk and we can organise drop off or collection.

A Fresh Face: SAUWS Environment welcome new team member Natalie McCall

SAUWS Environment is over the moon to welcome a new member to the team. Natalie McCall has joined the project, sparking fresh momentum and ideas for the exciting year that lies ahead. Building on the success of former team member Melanie Hall, Natalie will take the reins on the cross campus UWS Community Gardens as well as supporting all areas of the project.

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Natalie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team with a work history that stretches to the furthest corners of the earth. This includes working with local tribal communities to develop national park in Laos, eco-travel in Thailand and working with off the grid communities in California.

As well as these accomplishments in far off lands Natalie has carried out some extremely valuable work closer to home. Over the past 5 years Natalie has worked with local communities in Glasgow and the West of Scotland, developing community garden projects with a focus on health, training and fun. This work has offered the chance to work with diverse groups and individuals including Asylum seekers, Woman’s groups, Addiction groups and many more.

With the project entering a new phase at the end of March, Natalie, like the rest of the team is positive about the future. Commenting on what excited her about the post here in the team Natalie said:

‘Universities are centres of learning, so it makes sense that learning around sustainability become imbedded into the life of the Campus. The Sustainability Hub and Community Gardens will be brilliant for sharing resources and skills and growing awareness of how small steps can have a big impact. ‘

Welcoming a new member to the team brings a fresh impetus and brand new ideas moving forward. Over the past 18 months the gardens have grown from an idea and a seed to fully functioning plot, producing vegetables for staff and students. It is from here that Natalie hopes to take the project further with new avenues. Some of the exciting new plans for the future include regular Grow Your Own food courses, the development of a Veg Ledge scheme to support staff and students and the local community to grow at home in window-boxes and back gardens as well as continuing our weekly open garden sessions.

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While Natalie has a main focus on the garden projects she will also have direct input into everything else SAUWS Environment. With the new project approaching, the birth of the Sustainability Hub breathes new life for the SAUWS Free Shop, new bike maintenance workshops and much, much more. 2015/16 looks like it is going to be an exciting time at UWS!!!

For those who are keen to get gardening, from mid-March throughout the summer and autumn, Natalie will run weekly staff drop-in lunchtime gardening sessions across the Hamilton, Paisley and Ayr community gardens.

  1. Hamilton: Tuesday 17th 12-2pm (in front of the Caird building, next to the walkway to the Almada building)
  2. Ayr: Thursday 19th 12-2pm (between the campus building and the SUDS pond)
  3. Paisley: Friday 20th 12-2pm (next to the biology greenhouse at the Denholm building)

All tools, gloves and seeds/plants will be provided. Just bring yourselves. Please join Natalie to experience the deep relaxation and joy that comes from a bit of pottering in the garden.  Natalie also has funding for staff to plant up and take away their very own “veg-ledge” to grow delicious, fresh fruit and veg at home. This will begin Mid-April-details to follow. For a 2 minute browse into the benefits of your involvement check out: http://seedsforchangegardens.org/images/uploads/JUST_THE_FACTS_Benefits_of_Community_Gardens.pdf

For those bitten by the bug, Natalie will also run separate ‘Grow your Own’ courses during the summer break.

Do You Love These 5 Amazing Products?: Look for the logo, support Fairtrade.

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How did you start your day today? Did you enjoy a morning tea or coffee? Maybe you are heading to the cinema at the weekend; best get some chocolate or maybe ice cream for a treat to enjoy the movie! These are just a few everyday items that we take for granted that can be purchased with the Fairtrade logo on them. As we are in the midst of Fairtrade Fortnight, this blog post we will introduce you to a selection of everyday products that most of us know and love that can be bought from your local store, approved with the Fairtrade stamp. Firstly though, let’s have a look at what the Fairtrade stamp actually means and represents.

Last year we wrote a piece on Fairtrade Fortnight and the campaign that featured Foncho, the Banana farmer. Within this post we featured an in depth run down of the Fairtrade Foundation’s purpose and function which can be seen here. This week we will give you a brief recap.

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The Fairtrade foundation is set up to help farmers and workers in less fortunate countries to get a fair pay for the products that they produce. This helps avoid exploitation, child labour and offers them the opportunity to take more control over their lives and communities. The Fairtrade stamp certifies a minimum price is paid to Fairtrade producers that cover their cost of production, ensuring no farmers or organisations are being pushed into poverty while working hard to make a living. On top of this a premium is agreed to be paid to the producers to invest in their communities, building roads, schools and other vital elements to improve their everyday lives.

Now to our list of products that YOU love and use daily that can be purchased with the seal of Fairtrade approval.

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Chocolate

One of the world’s favourite treats and addictions, my weekend is not complete without enjoying some while relaxing. Choosing to buy Fairtrade chocolate can make a massive difference to the lives of many farmers in countries such as Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Behind this treat that we so often enjoy easily lies a story of hardship and struggle. 90% of the world’s cocoa beans are grown in small family farms in tropical conditions. Farmers work hard to nurture these sensitive plants, but with profits dwindling in a tough market, the Fairtrade Foundation offers the support required to help these hard working farmers make an honest living. So to can you by looking for that logo the next time you head shopping.

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Bananas

The amazing snack that can be enjoyed itself or added to a million different things; It provides energy, keeps you full up for longer and most of all it tastes great. Win win! For us anyway, this is not always the case for the hard working farmers who produce these for our market. Over the past few years the price of bananas has dropped due to supermarket price wars. This situation impacts on the farmers in countries such as Columbia, who struggle to make a living when their prize product is losing value while rising in cost to produce. At the moment 1 in 3 bananas sold in a supermarket is Fairtrade, let’s push to increase this!

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Tea and Coffee

Many of us cannot function without a morning tea or coffee. It also acts as a centre point of socializing for many. I personally love it after a meal. However we enjoy it, Fairtrade offer us a chance to ensure those who produce it are rewarded fairly. In a similar situation to chocolate, 80% of the world’s coffee is produced by small family farms where those who are producing it are struggling to make an honest living. Much of the time Fairtrade teas and coffees are of a very high standard compared to other blends, so treat yourself with this week’s shopping and purchase Fairtrade!

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Sugar

Sugar acts as a vital part of tea and coffee too many of us, but it also plays a part for us in everyday life. How many times do we add sugar to something without thinking? I personally never make a tomato pasta sauce without it; my mum could not do her Sunday baking without it. That is only the start. Like so many other things we use it freely without giving enough thought to where or how it is produced. Think Fairtrade! In the past year over £ 5 million of premium has been sent back to countries such as Zambia and Belize for their production of sugar through the Fairtrade agreement. This is money that can go towards these countries and communities shaping their own lives and destinies for generations to come.

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Gold

Many of us love a bit of glam in our lives. Many ladies will have been lucky enough to have been presented with a little gold and the magic question this year already; many maybe still are waiting to be. When the time comes to purchase the next piece of gold, remember to keep Fairtrade in mind. Large scale industrial mining organisations are often marginalising many smaller operations, making it harder and harder to maintain profit. This in turn is placing pressure on these small scale operations pushing them towards illegal production, lower pay and health and safety measures. The Fairtrade Foundation is putting in place the support needed to help these mines and their workers. Purchasing gold with this stamp can mean you are also doing your bit.

These are just five products that we know and love that can be purchased with the Fairtrade stamp. Visit the Fairtrade website for further information on other products and ways that you can help support the cause.

We here at SAUWS Environment are supporting Fairtrade Fortnight at our Paisley and Ayr Campuses, why not come along between 12 and 2 to join us for a FREE Fairtrade tea or coffee and some chocolate or bananas. We will be providing leaflets and information surrounding the foundation and its functions. Below are the details regarding these events, we hope to see you there!

March 2nd Paisley Campus, D block concourse – 12 – 2pm

March 5th Ayr Campus, Atrium – 12 – 2pm

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Pancake Day: How do you like yours? Check out our flipping great toppings for a sustainable pancake!

Hot, cold, sweet or savoury, there is no doubt that pancakes are a favourite among most of us. While this may be a weekend treat for some on a regular basis, Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday can always be a great excuse to get the eggs and flour out, put them in a bowl and get mixing for a week day treat. Creating the mixture is often the easy bit, deciding on what exciting topping to have can often be a testing task. Within this addition to the SAUWS Environment blog, we will bring you a basic pancake recipe mix and a selection of delicious topping ideas with a sustainable slant.

We promise it will be flipping good. (Pardon the pun)

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Firstly the pancake ingredients:

110g plain flour

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

275ml milk

50g butter

This is easy; sift the flour into the bowl. Make yourself a hole in the middle of the flour and crack the two eggs into it. At this stage whisk the mixture, making sure all flour from around the bowl is captured into the mix. Gradually add the milk to the mixture bit by bit while continuing to mix. After a short period of time you should have yourself a smooth batter mix.

Now heat up your frying pan and turn down to medium, add the butter and melt. At this stage you are ready to add the batter mix. Two tablespoons usually is about enough per pancake. Cooking should only take between 30 seconds and a minute per side, you should be able to lift one edge to check, if it’s good to go, flip it. Continue this process until all your mixture is gone.

All you need to decide now is what topping you want for these delicious delights, we have a few sustainable ideas right here!

syrup butter

Syrup

The original and best, especially when combined with some butter, American style!

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Fairtrade Chocolate

With Fairtrade fortnight falling between the end of February and beginning of March why not treat yourself to some Fairtrade chocolate. This can be broken up, grated or melted together with some butter to make an amazing chocolate mud mix.

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Ben and Jerrys or any other Fairtrade Ice Creams

Many ice cream manufacturers are setting up Fairtrade links these days. Support this if you can. Also have a look for some local ice cream producers, support the local businesses. Ice cream is an amazing accompaniment for pancakes; even add the chocolate we have already spoken about for an extra treat.

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Locally sourced apples

Know a friend with an apple tree? Look for some locally sourced apples; it doesn’t matter if they are a little bitter. Peel them, slice them and add them to a frying pan with some butter and sugar, fry until lovely, soft and sweet. Add these to the pancakes and for that extra bit of luxury, pour over a little cream. Mmmm!

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Fairtrade Bananas

We are back in Fairtrade territory here, these make a classic pancake topping, especially when accompanied with that chocolate mentioned above. With or without, the chocolate this is a great healthy option.

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Winter Berries

February is still winter time after all. Why not bring some seasonal fruits into the mix. There is a great selection of berries in season at this time of year, if they are a little tart try adding some sugar or even icing sugar for a great topping.

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Locally sourced bacon

Pancakes do not always need to be a sweet treat; in fact I personally love bacon with pancakes. Try to look for some lovely locally sourced bacon. This can either be fried, or for a healthier option grill the bacon. If you wanted to be a little more adventurous, try adding some sweet maple syrup.

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Locally farmed happy eggs

That’s right; we have admitted that pancakes make a great savoury snack. Eggs make a great topping to accompany pancakes. These can be fried, scrambled or poached. Why not add that local bacon also for a breakfast pancake!!

cheese

Locally produced cheddar

Is there much cheese produced in your area? There is some fantastic cheese produced here in Scotland. This makes for a great topping, especially when melted. Again we can involve the bacon and even the eggs too for a real luxury savoury pancake.

I hope our pancake post has tickled your taste buds and got you in the mood for this Shrove Tuesday. It is important to think a little about sourcing our produce locally. This supports local businesses as well as reducing our own carbon footprint. For products such as chocolate and bananas always look for the Fairtrade logo, this helps to support our farmer friends in far off lands, providing them with a fairer return for all their hard work.
Whatever your choice of pancake topping this Pancake Day, we here at SAUWS Environment hope you enjoy it.